Trump, his children subpoenaed by New York attorney general in family business investigation | CBC News


New York’s attorney general recently subpoenaed former U.S. president Donald Trump and his two eldest children, demanding their testimony in connection with an ongoing civil investigation into the family’s business practices, according to a court filing made public Monday.

The subpoenas, stemming from Attorney General Letitia James’ years-long investigation into matters including “the valuation of properties owned or controlled” by Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, came to light after James went to court last month seeking to force the Trumps to comply.

A state court judge who handled past disputes arising from the probe agreed Monday to entertain arguments over the subpoenas, which also seek documents from the Trumps in addition to their testimony.

James, a Democrat, has spent more than two years looking at whether the Trump Organization misled banks or tax officials about the value of assets — inflating them to gain favourable loan terms or minimizing them to reap tax savings.

The Trumps have indicated they will fight the subpoenas and are expected to file court papers through their lawyers seeking to have them thrown out. A similar legal fight played out last year after James’ office subpoenaed the testimony of another Trump son, Eric Trump.

Messages seeking comment were left with James’ office and lawyers for the Trumps.

Monday’s filing was also the first public disclosure that investigators were seeking information from Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. as part of the probe.

It was reported last month that James had requested that Donald Trump sit for a deposition, but Monday’s court filing was the first public acknowledgement by her office that it had subpoenaed him.

Legal fight heats up

As the legal fight over the subpoenas was heating up behind the scenes, Trump sued James in federal court last month, seeking to put an end to her investigation. Trump, in the lawsuit, claimed that James had violated his constitutional rights in a “thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates.”

In the past, the Republican ex-president has decried James’ investigation as part of a “witch hunt” along with a parallel criminal probe being run by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

James’ investigators last year interviewed one of Trump’s sons, Trump Organization executive Eric Trump, as part of the probe. James’ office went to court to enforce a subpoena on the younger Trump and a judge forced him to testify after his lawyers abruptly cancelled a previously scheduled deposition.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks at a news conference in New York City in August 2021. (Ted Shaffrey/The Associated Press)

Last year, former district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. gained access to the longtime real estate mogul’s tax records after a multiyear fight that twice went to the U.S. Supreme Court. He also brought tax fraud charges in July against the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg.

Although the civil investigation is separate from the district attorney’s criminal investigation, James’ office has been involved in both.

Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., former Manhattan district attorney, is shown in May 2018. (Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press)

Before he left office last week, Vance convened a new grand jury to hear evidence as he weighed whether to seek more indictments in the investigation.

Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he and the company evaded taxes on lucrative fringe benefits paid to executives.

Both investigations are at least partly related to allegations made in news reports and by Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that Trump had a history of misrepresenting the value of assets.

James’ office issued subpoenas to local governments as part of the civil probe for records pertaining to Seven Springs, Trump’s estate north of Manhattan, and a tax benefit Trump received for placing land into a conservation trust. Vance later issued subpoenas seeking many of the same records.

James’ office has also been looking at similar issues relating to a Trump office building in New York City, a hotel in Chicago and a golf course near Los Angeles.

Her office also won a series of court rulings forcing Trump’s company and a law firm it hired to turn over troves of records.

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